-Won the Golden State Derby in 2001 with Royal Dip
-Won the John Deere California Distaff with Royal Dip in 2002
With great trepidation as a young teenager, Sharon Brandsness walked up to the front door of Grace and Frank Vessels, Sr.'s home, knocked, and was surprised when Mrs. Vessels answered. She shyly introduced herself, told Mrs. Vessels she was from Nevada and a big, big fan of Go Man Go. She asked if she might meet the famous racehorse. The opportunity to meet and pet Go Man Go is a memory Sharon will never forget.
Brandsness worked summers at the Alameda County Fair in California, as a hot-walker for a TB trainer. She knew some day she would have a racehorse of her own, and it would be a racing quarter horse. Until then, she raced quarter horses around barrels in rodeo competition.
Through her aunt, Brandsness became friends with her mentor, Millie Vessels. After becoming Chairman of the Nevada Racing Commission, Brandsness recalls that "Millie told me it was time I got into the breeding end of this business, and invited me to have first choice at some broodmares she was culling from the herd." One of the mare's Brandsness picked was a stakes winning daughter of Go Man Go. She became the foundation mare for her "little-itty-bitty horse business," as Brandsness refers to her racing operation, even to this day.
An addiction that's hard to break, is how she describes quarter horse racing. Back in 1996, she decided to get out of the business she had enjoyed for 20 years due to her husband's terminal illness. She sold all her horses, with the exception of a yearling filly that was entered in a yearling sale, a granddaughter of that Go Man Go mare. After the gavel went down, a sale rep came to her and said there had been a dispute in the bidding and the filly would have to go back into the ring and be resold. Brandsness didn't want to do that, so she said "no sale." The filly, Gonna Make Sum Noise, went on to become the 2nd faster qualifier in the Los Alamitos Million the following year, and Sharon never left the business. "There are no accidents in life," Sharon believes. "Some things are just meant to be."
In 1999 she attended the Vessels/Schvaneveldt sale and purchased Royal Dip, a grey Royal Quick Dash daughter out of Cajulle by Calyx. "Dippy" went on to win over $145,000, is a multi-stakes winner, including the Golden State Derby and the California Ford Challenge. She is now the top broodmare in Sharon's breeding program.
Royal Dip's first foal, Soul of Silence, has proven to be a speedster at Los Alamitos, with a 102-speed index. She also has a Vessels Farm bred mare in her band, Dashin Meter, a daughter of Meter Me Gone out of Dashin Lou Ease by Dash for Cash. As long as I'm in this business, I'll have a Vessels bred horse in my backyard," she said. "If it weren't for Millie, I would not be living my dream."
Brandsness is a syndicate member of the Separatist group, a syndicate member of Masters Call, and is a partner in A First Down, a two-year old full brother to world champion A Ransom. She also races Royaldashn, by Check Him Out, out of Florentinesroyaldash, a daughter of the great Florentine. And she had great fun being a partner in multi-champion and world champion racing paint, Real Easy Cash.
"I like being one of the little-bitty people in this business," she added. "Millie had great respect for the little guy, because she felt they were the foundation of our industry. She used to compare them to the base of a pyramid. 'Without the base,' she would say, 'the pyramid will tumble.' "
Brandsness tries to give back to the industry by serving on AQHA's Racing Committee and being a past member of the Pacific Coast Racing Association's Board of Directors.